Judge rules fraud commission can collect voter data

Judge rules fraud commission can collect voter data
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A federal judge has rejected a request to block President Trump’s voter fraud commission from collecting information on registered voters across the country.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s (EPIC) had asked for a preliminary injunction to stop the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from collecting publicly available voter roll information. That information includes names, voting histories and, most controversially, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.

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But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the commission is not considered a federal agency and therefore not required to follow certain reporting requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), as the group claimed.

“Under the binding precedent of this circuit, entities in close proximity to the President, which do not wield ‘substantial independent authority,’ are not ‘agencies’ for purposes of the APA. On this basis, neither the Commission or the Director of White House Information Technology—who is currently charged with collecting voter roll information on behalf of the Commission—are 'agencies' for purposes of the APA, meaning the Court cannot presently exert judicial review over the collection process," she wrote on Monday.

Trump created the commission in May to investigate his claims of voter fraud in last year’s election.

EPIC had argued that it is an agency and should have been required to complete a privacy impact assessment, detailing the type of information being collected, what the information is being used for, how it will be protected and whether it will be disclosed to others, before collecting personal information electronically.

In a statement, EPIC President Marc Rotenberg said the group “will push forward.”

“The Commission cannot evade privacy obligations by playing a shell game with the nation’s voting records,” he said.